Name: Keeshan Ramkissoon Candidate Number: School: St. Mary’s College School Code: Teacher: Ms. Gangaram Year: 2008-2009 Topic: Pollution – Environmental Degradation Title: What are the causes of pollution in the Couva River located in Trinidad W.I.?



Name: Keeshan Ramkissoon Candidate Number: School: St. Mary’s College School Code: Teacher: Ms. Gangaram Year: 2008-2009 Topic: Pollution – Environmental Degradation Title: What are the causes of pollution in the Couva River located in Trinidad W.I.?



1. Aim of Study

Page No.
3 4 7 8 14 16 17

2. Location Maps
3. Methodology 4. Presentation of Data 5. Analysis and Discussion 6. Conclusion 7. Bibliography



What are the types and causes of pollution in the Couva River, Trinidad, W.I.? What are some possible solutions to the causes of pollution?


Map of Trinidad


Map of Chaguanas to San Fernando


Map of Couva



How data was collected? Information was obtained by going on a field trip to the actual site where photos were taken, field sketches drawn and physio-chemical data collected. Searching the internet and using maps from atlases were done also. Five tests were used to collect data - pH, salinity, temperature, turbidity and width. The pH and salinity were measured using a pH meter and salinity meter respectively. These tests were done by inserting the meters into the water until a reading came up on the digital screen. Temperature was measured with a thermometer by inserting it into the water until the final reading was seen on the Celsius scale. Turbidity was measured with a secchi disc or a turbidity meter where the water level was too low. The secchi disc was lowered into the water until its colour could not be seen and then the length of its string was measured. The turbidity meter was filled with water until the colours at its base could not be seen. A measuring tape was used to measure the width of the river but estimations were used where it was impossible to use the tape. When data was collected? The data was collected at low tide on May 19, 2008 between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Where data was collected? The data was collected at the six sites along the Couva River, Couva, Trinidad, W.I. (see Map 3).


Site 1 This site was located under the Couva Bridge near the 25km marker on the south bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway. On the northern side of the bridge there was a concrete embankment on which there was moss and dirt at different levels (indicators of water levels in the rainy season). The river level was low and the channel narrow as it was the dry season. Several pollutants such as plastic bottles, deeyas, old clothing, a laundry hamper, crocos bags and a large metal railing was noted in the river. In the river there were animals such as river guppies, tadpoles and snails as well as algae. Algae and snails are a sign that the water contains many nutrients. pH 7.1 Salinity 1140 Temperature 25 Turbidity 83 Width 1.2


Table 1: Physio-chemical data from Site 1

Figure 1

Site 2 9

At this site, two sets of tests were taken (upstream and downstream of effluent channel). This site was located in Point Lisas near the Orange Valley Road Bridge. The effluent channel contained hot water from the industries nearby.

pH Upstream 7.1 Effluent Downstream 7.2

Salinity >2000 >2000

Temperature 30 43 39

Turbidity 54 43

Width 8 8

Table 2: Physio-chemical data from Site 2

Figure 2


Site 3 This site was used as a photo stop.

Photo 2 showing the Couva River from the Orange Valley Road


Site 4 This site was located alongside the Carli Bay Road. There was elephant grass and trees and a lot of crab holes on the banks. There were lots of plastic bottles in the river and a pungent odour was detected. pH 7.2 Salinity >2000 Temperature 33 Turbidity 83 Width 10


Table 3: Physio-chemical data from Site 4

Figure 3


Site 5 This site was located in the Carli Bay mangrove. There was mangrove trees growing on both banks and their pneumatophores were seen sticking out from the ground. There were lots of crab holes near the river. There was still the pungent smell and the water appeared black. pH 7.1 Salinity >2000 Temperature 35 Turbidity 50 Width 10


Table 4: Physio-chemical data from Site 5

Figure 4

Site 6 13

This site was at the river mouth and was located at Cangrejos Point. There was mangrove on either side of the banks, the water appeared black and the odour of sulphur was still smelt. The secchi disc was used and the width was estimated. pH 7.1 Salinity >2000 Temperature 34 Turbidity 54 Width 12


Table 5: Physio-chemical data from Site 6

Figure 5


Pollution can be defined as an undesirable change in the physical, chemical or biological environment which affects the quality of life in that area by man’s interference. The main type of pollution occurring in the Couva River (see map 3), is water pollution which can be sub-divided into thermal pollution, eutrophication and wastewater. Thermal pollution is a temperature change in natural bodies of water caused by human influence. Pt. Lisas is an industrial area which has ammonia and methanol plants. These industries take sea water from the Gulf-of-Paria to cool their machinery and after it is used, it is dumped into the river at a higher temperature. Increase in water temperature can affect the ecosystem by decreasing oxygen supply and killing fish. A possible solution is to use cooling reservoirs or towers to lower the water temperature before releasing it into the river. The source of thermal pollution can be found at site 2 (see Figure 6).

Figure 6 Sea water contains salt and when released into the river, the salinity of the water raises causing problems for freshwater organisms. The salinity of the water after Site 1 was over 2000 (see Figure 7) because of the effluent stream. Industries could use over the same water, many times, once it has been cooled so that lesser amounts of the sea water would enter the river.

Figure 7 Eutrophication is an increase in chemical nutrients (nitrogen or phosphorus compounds) in an ecosystem which leads to a lack of oxygen in the water and promotes excessive plant growth and decay. Couva is a residential and agricultural area and nitrates in chemical fertilizers and phosphates in detergents can be washed into the river from homes and gardens. As vegetation decays in the 15

water, tannins are leached out, causing a rise in turbidity. To solve these problems, organic fertilizers could be used and a proper drainage system should be put in place in residential areas Eutrophication along with the aggravation of river bed sediment by the effluent channel raises turbidity levels (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 Wastewater comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry, and agriculture. Wastewater not only comes from residential and agricultural areas, but also from the Pt. Lisas Industrial Estate and commercial entities such as the Atlantic Food Plaza. However, the chemical composition of the river did not vary much (see Figure 9).

Figure 9 Land pollution is also a major problem. Garbage can block the river and lead to flooding in nearby areas and if the garbage (as seen in Site 1) reaches the Gulf of Paria, it would make the west coast beaches unfit for swimming. Educating people on the proper disposal of waste may help decrease the amount of solid waste and there should be strict penalties for illegal dumping of garbage in the river.



The Couva River was found to be highly polluted by water pollution (thermal, eutrophication and wastewater) and by land pollution. The river has been subjected to many years of pollution and has been greatly affected by it. The causes of pollution were determined to be the improper disposal of liquid and solid waste from the surrounding industries and communities. The effluent stream caused thermal pollution and residents of Couva contributed to eutrophication and land pollution while both made wastewater. There are many solutions to the problems of the river which include drafting new environmental policies, implementing laws against pollution and by finding environmentally friendly ways of doing industrial activities. Thermal pollution could be reduced by using cooling towers or reservoirs and the salinity of the river could be less affected if lesser volumes of sea water are used. A proper drainage and sewage system and the use of organic fertilizers could stop eutrophication and prevent wastewater in the river. Proper disposal of solid waste can lead to less garbage and a more scenic Couva River. We are responsible for the way the river is now by creating industries and building homes and farms so near it and by not following simple guidelines for the protection of our environment. It is by our doing that the river is in the state it is in now so we should try to make the river return to normality as it is the only thing we could do the save the wildlife here.


1. Wilson, Mark. The Caribbean Environment for CXC Geography. Oxford, 2005 2. Gentles, Marolyn and Ottley, Jeanette. Longman Geography for CSEC. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2005 3. Certificate Atlas for the Caribbean, 5th Edition, London, Philip’s, 2004. 4. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2nd November, 2008 5. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 11th September, 2008 6. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 11th September, 2008


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